Old Town Mill Closed Indefinitely, Employees Furloughed

Updated 5 months ago

The Old Town mill will be closing its doors–again, effective immediately.

About 180 workers are now out of work.

“I just heard about it from my nephew meeting me here for lunch. I had no idea, I guess it was a quick thing all at once. They told him last night that the mill was shutting down and that was it,” said Skip Hussey of Alton, whose nephew was furloughed.

Operations at Old Town Fuel and Fiber will be indefinitely suspended, effective immediately.

A statement from the company reads in part, quote, “employees not needed for securing the facility will be furloughed. During this idled period ownership will be pursuing options to secure the long term viability of the facility.”

“It’s a difficult market right now. The amount that’s available to the market is limited and that makes the prices higher here. There’s a lot of competition worldwide with new sources of pulp coming from areas with warmer climates,” said John Williams, president of the Maine Pulp and Paper Association.

Most workers found out about the closure late Wednesday.

This mill has been here for more than 100 years, although it’s changed hands a number of times. The most recent owners took it over back in 2008. People around town say this news is a big blow to the local community.

“It’s another bust for the town. I mean it’s happened again and again and again. I’ve had one person in this morning that lost his job, found out yesterday. He actually said, no surprise, we knew it was coming. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was more when,” said Donnie Sparkman, who runs Gus’s Barber Shop in town.

Area business owners are worried about the ripple effect.

“We’re the only barbershop in town. We get kind of the heartbeat of what’s going on. We notice it–when people are leaving we’re losing customers,” said Sparkman.

Derek Boyington, who works at Tim’s Little Big Store, says he’s concerned the closure might affect business.

“I mean, hopefully it doesn’t get worse, but unfortunately, probably it will get worse before it gets better,” said Boyington.

Locals say this latest closure just adds insult to injury for a community that’s already struggling.

“A lot of people are going to be out of a job again. It’s not going to help the state, that’s for sure,” said Old Town resident Desaraye McCue.

‘When these mills shut down, whether it’s Millinocket, Old Town, it’s hard for them to rebound with the financial situation. They don’t ever seem to make it for some reason,” said Hussey.

And whether a new owner will come along and revive this mill, seems like anyone’s guess.

“Will it pick itself up? Only time will tell. It’s going to be a sit and wait and see what happens kind of thing,” said Sparkman.

  • 6pack36

    As a employee of the mill the problem was not competition or energy cost it was mismanagement that closed this mill, for them to say that’s the problem is laughable.

  • millworker123

    I agree wholeheartedly… it is the daily decision making of
    upper management who are responsible for the mills demise. I would encourage other paper mills to think
    carefully before hiring any management people from this mill. The public should
    be aware that the costs are high because of the mismanagement period. If they are using this for an excuse, then
    they should make public the data that confirms this. The mill employees should
    move on with their lives rather than wait for this mill to restart under the
    same “leadership” that closed the mill the last two times. Furthermore, it is a shame that the mill
    employees have had to live with the threat of the mills closure for over a year
    and then to read it on the BDN website instead of letting us know what is going
    on is a travesty in itself.

  • OhMyWoRRRRRRRd77

    wowwwwww. powerful comments. my heart is with displaced mill workers, & everyone in the community who will suffer from this. <3

  • Larry Austin Brown

    It wasn’t because of wood costs because they owe a lot of chip hauling contractors some serious money! The only reason these guys even stuck there necks out and took a chance hauling to them is because they offered a higher rate than there local competitors but the deal with the higher rate was to offset the waiting period in which they had to wait to get paid from the old town mill where they coulda hauled it to another company and not had to risk not getting paid but for a slighly lower rate! They really took advantage of the contractors and screwed them outta a lot of money and or reliable hauling contracts they may have had previously! Seems like they did the same thing Cate Street did in East Mill only these guys screwed contractors out of product and or Trucking costs! Seems to be a trend with these big outfits! They get the Cow on borrowed time, Promise the world to the guy that feeds the cow, Milk the cow bone dry and sell the milk and put the money in there pockets, Then Butcher the cow, sell the meat and once again put the money in there pockets, then the guy that they got the cow and the food to feed it are left with empty pockets when they coupda just kept the cow and there food and sold it to somebody for alittle less and been far aheada the game! Just my opinion

    • 6pack36

      So true, and they did it with a big smile on there face.

    • peter

      Please work on your English writing skills. It’s very hard to read run on sentences with no punctuation.

  • peter

    turn out the lights. the party’s over

  • ffallguy

    Would the last family leaving Old Town, please, turn the lights off? Thank you.